Expats from all over the world have long flocked to Mexico for its sunny weather, diverse culture, and low cost of living.  Statistics from the Migration Policy Unit of Mexico show that the number of American residents who filed for or renewed their visas increased from 17,800 in 2019 to over 30,000 in 2022… a 70% increase!

The reality is that more and more people are growing disillusioned with life in the United States and looking for a better way of life in another country. Mexico is an easy an obvious choice for many Americans not only because of the proximity to the United States, but because of how remarkable and diverse Mexico is. You can experience a wonderful quality of life with a lot less money.

We have spent considerable time in Mexico and love it more and more every time we go. Additionally, as moving abroad coaches we regularly help people find their dream destination in Mexico. We love watching individuals and families happily settle into their new lives all around the remarkable country that is Mexico.

With all the expats flocking to Mexico let’s look at where they are going, and what cities have the largest expat populations in Mexico. Expat populations can make a significant difference in ones ability to settle into a new country as an outsider. And while it is so meaningful to connect with and support the local populations, communities of expats can provide invaluable connections. After having lived abroad for many years I can say that expat communities are invaluable when learning to navigate a new country.

In this guide, we reveal the 15 Best Mexican Cities For Expats. Each of these jewels has its own special combination of old culture and heritage, as well as new amenities and resources for the increasing number of foreign travelers. We will see how these locations offer all the contemporary conveniences that expats need to live well, with the historic charm and culture that people love in Mexican communities.  The cities mentioned below reveal a wide array of very different climates, cultures and communities. It is important that you find what best suits you.

Mexico is an expat’s dream, and we invite you to come along as we tour its most popular locations, from the quaint alleys of old villages to the vibrant nightlife of major cities. There is such a diversity of options and settings. So let’s check them out!

Quick Summary 

Here is a snapshot of the 15 Best Mexican Cities For Expats…

  1. Puerto Vallarta (A Harbor for Seafaring Expats)

  2. San Miguel de Allende (Extensive in Cultural Content)

  3. Lake Chapala (The Go-To Spot for Retired Foreign Nationals)

  4. Huatulco (An Undiscovered Treasure in Southern Mexico)

  5. Monterrey (The Most Industrial City in Mexico)

  6. Mexico City (An Expat and Digital Nomad Hub)

  7. Los Cabos (A Paradise for Beach Lovers)

  8. Mérida (Colonial Urban Residence)

  9. Guadalajara (The Tech Hub of Mexico City)

  10. Playa del Carmen (A Jewel Along Riviera Maya)

  11. Tulúm (An Adorable Vacation Spot With a Bohemian Hue)

  12. Cancun (A Top Spot for Foreign Couples)

  13. Mazatlan (A Mexican Seaside Ideal for Active Seniors)

  14. Guanajuato (A Haven for History Lovers on a Budget)

  15. Puebla (A Delightful and Cultural Sanctuary)

Factors that Influence the Top Destinations…

With so many wonderful options, it’s hard to narrow down Mexico to just a few top locations for expats to call home. Before we get into the list, several factors, including living expenses, weather, safety, basic amenities, and culture, factored into the consideration and examination of each location. Here is a breakdown of some of the criteria…

  • Living Cost: Expats enjoy a reduced cost of living expenses in Mexico compared to many Western or American cities. Food and housing expenses, for instance, are often low. In many cases the reduction in cost of living can be more than 50% in many Mexican cities.

  • Medical Facilities: The cities mentioned in this list all have well-run, available and easy to access health care services. City dwellers, in particular, have access to first-rate medical facilities at reasonable prices in the more populated locations. Most Mexican hospitals employ highly skilled, English-speaking physicians. We have never gone to a clinic or hospital in Mexico that has not been impressively run with the majority of doctors speaking English.

  • Number of People: Mexico is home to a variety of small, medium, and big cities. We focused on cities with populations ranging from 200,000 to 1 million, with a few exceptions included. We find that these size towns work best for the people we have helped relocate to Mexico.

  • Safety: We checked out the Mexican neighborhoods with the lowest crime rates. We took into account the areas of this country that have lower crime rates and safer environments for expats.

  • Extra Benefits: Basic utilities, such as water, roads, public transit, entertainment and other amenities were considered.

  • Climate: When deciding whether or not to make Mexico their permanent home, many expats consider the climate to be the most important factor. Hot and dry summers are a hallmark of the four-season climate of northern Mexico, while more tropical seasons can be experienced down south. We made sure to consider all these variables.

Ready to Live Abroad? Check out this post on the Best Countries to Escape the United States.

15 Mexican Cities For Expats 

Below you will find a list of recommended Mexican locations with larger expat populations of people from the United States, Canada, and Europe.  

Here are the top fifteen Mexican cities for foreigners to call home:

1. Puerto Vallarta: A Harbor for Seafaring Expats 

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has catered to expats for more than 60 years. This city has quickly become a favorite among people who put a premium on top notch medical care. Retires or people needing more medical services happily relocate to Puerto Vallarta due to…

  •  first-rate medical facilities

  •  highly trained doctors and nurses with a high level of English

  • relatively low medical costs

Additionally, this seaside city’s roughly 220,000 residents are justifiably proud of the area’s stunning beaches and tropical highlands.

There are gorgeous beachfront properties that cost $3,500 per month in some of Puerto Vallarta’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Warm hospitality from residents makes life in Puerto Vallarta enjoyable year-round, even in the midst of hot and humid summers. The wide variety of communities and activities satisfy all sorts of different lifestyles. Flights, both domestic and international, depart from its primary airport year round. Puerto Vallarta is safe. and very welcoming to foreigners.

2. San Miguel de Allende: Extensive in Cultural Community

San Miguel de Allende

The Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende stands in the very center of the country. Among Mexico’s cities, it ranks among the safest and a dream destination for expats. This vibrant city has a large population of international inhabitants, and it ranks high among the world’s most visited destinations. The cultural diversity, amazing food scene and unbeatable weather are just a few reasons why so many people have relocated to this charming city.

There are roughly 165,000 people residing in the metropolitan region, with an estimated 10,000 of them being expats. The high-desert temperature is loved by most North Americans, with warm days and cold nights for the most part of the year.  While it is so helpful to learn Spanish it is also easy enough to get by in English as many locals and expats are bilingual.

Despite its small size, San Miguel de Allende now has the conveniences North American immigrants seek. Excellent medical care and schools on a global scale are among them. Living or retiring here as a foreigner is among one of the best options in Mexico.

Various cultural events are held in San Miguel de Allende throughout the year with a rich emphasis on the history and culture of Mexico. The typical cost of living is roughly $1,200 to $1,800 per month, making it a very affordable destination. Recently we helped a family of four relocate to San Miguel de Allende where they found a fantastic school for their two children and a very welcoming multicultural community.

3. Lake Chapala: The Go-To Spot for Retired Foreign Nationals

Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala is the most popular destination for retirees from Mexico, offering well kept facilities, local markets, cafés, high-quality restaurants, street vendors, and golf courses. With over 55,000 people residing in the Lake Chapala town, this region is home to a thriving expat population. North and South Americans, Brits, and Mexicans all flock to the area as well, making it a rich multicultural community,

Guadalajara is just a half-hour drive away, so the hustle-and-bustle of a big city is nearby for the times you are seeking more of an urban experiences. The Vista del Lago neighborhood, home to a well-respected golf course and club is conveniently located nearby and many retirees buy homes at a fraction of the cost compared to resort housing in the United States.

Chapala and Ajijic are places where many artists and creatives find refuge. On Wednesdays, when Ajijic’s massive outdoor market is open, locals and expats alike congregate and create a lively and happy scene full of music, food and community.. You may find all sorts of goods here, including jewelry, hand-carved sculptures, clothing, fresh produce, prepared meals, and home goods. It is a wonderful place to visit even if you don’t plan on moving.

The far more low-key town of San Antonio is not far from Ajijic. Many foreign nationals settle here due to the peaceful communitywith very large homes that offer a lot of privacy.

4. Huatulco: An Undiscovered Treasure in Southern Mexico

Huatulco

Huatulco is a development planned by FONATUR, the National Trust Foundation for Tourism Growth that the Mexican government administers. The official population count in Huatulco is just about 56,000, with an additional 1,000 people living there as either permanent residents or part-time visitors nearing retirement age or who own land. Countless Canadians make this place their winter home. 

In light of Huatulco’s present traffic demands, there is a four-lane roadway that follows the coastline allowing for scenic and easy access. Huatulco has some of the most beautiful natural settings of all the popular expat locations in Mexico. The city is well run, clean and has some of the greatest water purification facilities in Mexico. In addition, Huatulco’s international airport offers direct jet service to many destinations in Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, despite the city’s relatively small population.

Popular activities include fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Several fishing contests are held annually in Huatulco. This popular destination is also very safe and has great medical access for expats.

5. Monterrey: The Most Industrial City in Mexico

Monterrey

Monterrey is often referred to as the most “American city” in all of Mexico. It is an urban environment with a lot of amenities, bustling nightlife and a delicious food scene. It also has beautiful natural setting just outside the city including majestic mountains. There are beautiful parks and green spaces around the downtown area, and the River Santa Lucia Walk links them together. The heart of Monterrey revolves around fusing Mexican culture with that of a global metropolis and it is a great choice if you are looking for a more bustling and urban location.

People from Monterrey, who are called Regios, are proud of their city and its reputation for good taste and hard work. It has a large population of expats and a very involved community of expat families. There are a lot of educational opportunities in the city with over ten universities in Monterrey. Although rentals are much cheaper compared to the United States, the living costs are comparable to those in Mexico City.

6. Mexico City: An Expat and Digital Nomad Hub

Mexico City

You may not be looking for a large city to relocate abroad, but if you are Mexico City is in a class all its own. All the things you could ever want await you in Mexico City and few cities offer expats the amenities and experiences like those found in this incredible destination.

Its almost 9 million inhabitants make it the most populous of all the cities on the list and it is truly one of the most vibrant and unique cities in the world. It has a rich history spanning centuries, a beautiful culture, and food that is internationally recognized as some of the best in the world. The city is in a constant state of flux as it strives to enhance its world-renowned public transportation and urban lifestyle and it has a pulse and energy that is contagious. This one-of-a-kind global metropolis is home to thriving Mexicans, as well as expats from all over the globe. It is perfect choice for foreigners who want to maintain a sense of global connectivity and is a hot spot for digital nomads.

Professional, social and cultural opportunities abound in this city and compensation is competitive for professionals in this area. Along with the greatest healthcare in Mexico, this city is home to more foreign schools than any other in the nation. Of all Mexican cities, this one has the biggest expat community. Regardless of your age, you can be sure to find plenty of foreigners here. Many feel that the fast-paced lifestyle in Mexico City suits them well. There are countless expats living their best life in Mexico City with great schools, healthcare and exciting community activities.

If living in or visiting Mexico City be sure to experience this amazing food tour in Mexico City. You will not regret it and is a great way to get to know your potential new community.

7. Los Cabos: A Paradise for Beach Lovers

Los Cabos

Los Cabos is located at the very southern point of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. It has long been a popular spot for tourists and foreigners. There are two cities that make up Los Cabos.

Much emphasis is directed on the popular tourist destination of Cabo San Lucas. By contrast, San José del Cabo, Mexico’s twin city, is just as appealing to internationals and with fewer tourists. 

The population of Cabo San Lucas is close to 200,000 with an estimated 5–10% of the population consisting of expats. A large number of snowbirds and an endless stream of visitors flock to the city every year.

The population of San José del Cabo exceeds 135,000 with expats making up a smaller portion of this destination.

Cabo San Lucas is located 20 kilometers away from San José del Cabo and people love the interconnectedness of the two communities.

Living is slower in San José del Cabo which is known for its artistic and creative aura with beautiful colonial buildings and many colorful murals.

There are a lot of outdoor activities including beautiful beaches and hiking and which makes Los Cabos a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts. .

One of the busiest international airports in Mexico is located in San José del Cabo, which provides direct flights to several locations in the United States and Canada making it an ideal choice for expats that need to travel or return home with regularity.

One of our all time favorite ways to get to know a community is by experiencing the culinary scene with locals. Be sure to check out this amazing cooking class in Cabo San Lucas.

8. Mérida: Colonial Urban Residence

Mérida

The Spanish colonized city of Mérida is the capital of Yucatán State and one of the three states making up Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which is in the southeastern part of the country. The feel, climate and culture of this town is unique due to its history, architecture and roots.

It is home to museums, colleges, large enterprises, and an international airport that offers direct flights to the United States. Merida is known as the cultural capital of Yucatan for good reason and the Mayan Culture thrives here and is on full display.

In addition to the Mayan Ruins and Chichen Itza, the city hosts dozens of cultural events throughout the year where you will encounter large festivals, folk music, dancing and incredible Mayan food.

Nearly one million people call the Mérida metropolitan area home and there is a small but active expat community. Expats report living in Merida feels like living closer to the true history and culture that is Mexico.

9. Guadalajara: The Tech Hub of Mexico City

Guadalajara

Expats looking for a pleasant climate, lively culture, and inexpensive cost of living may find what they’re looking for in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city. With a variety of activities ranging from bustling city life to tranquil countryside, it caters to both urban and rural dispositions.

A 1.5% rise from 2022, the present population of Guadalajara’s metro area is 1,420,000 in 2023 making it a bustling and active metropolis.

Guadalajara has a very active expat population and the cost of living is lower than that of Mexico City. The welcoming locals, mouthwatering cuisine, and cultural treasures of the city have made it famous for expats and foreigners.

There are good international schools, an active digital nomad scene, and good healthcare with many English speaking professionals. Guadalajara routinely tops the list for expats when looking for a vibrant city to locate with a low cost of living.

10. Playa del Carmen: A Jewel Along Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is rapidly becoming one of Mexico’s most popular destinations for foreigners. It has a mix of new amenities and old world charm and has a growing expat community. For many it is the perfect Mexican Caribbean Paradise.

Playa del Carmen is a great spot for expats looking for warm weather year round, a more tranquil environment and a small town feel. Playa del Carmen has a variety of charming expat neighborhoods and communities. Places like the Centro neighborhood found on Quinta Avenida, often referred to the Mexican 5th Avenue is full of high brand stores and traditional Mexican food cafes. The area is known for its lively nightlife, unique dining options, and charming boutiques. It is a popular choice among expats looking for long-term housing due to its proximity to the beach and surplus of reasonable housing options ranging from homes to apartments.

Playacar is an another popular option for expats seeking tranquility. The private beach and golf course are its most distinctive features and is attractive to families and retirees alike. It’s a short ten-minute drive south of Centro, so you can be close to all the excitement of Playa del Carmen’s downtown while having a peaceful escape at home.

Luxury areas like Playacar are gaining in popularity due to the amenities and way of life but at a much smaller price tag than most American towns. Playa del Carmen is safe, has top notch medical faculties and a lovely way of life for Americans looking to relocate.

11. Tulúm: An Charming Location With a Bohemian Vibe

Tulúm

On the southern tip of Mexico’s world-famous Riviera Maya lies Tulum’s picturesque and rapidly developing resort town. This expanding neighborhood stays true to its backpacker origins with its noticeable bohemian atmosphere and an abundance of yoga studios and therapeutic massage centers. The ancient Maya civilization, which ruled this area more than a thousand years ago, is still very much alive and well and the influence is felt throughout the community.

The current population projection for Tulum in the year 2024 is 45,000 people making it a small town but with many amenities and opportunities.

Tulum has a very unique vibe and while some people absolutely love it, others prefer something with a less laid back vibe and more amenities. That being said we have known several foreigners fall in love with Tulum and never looked back after relocating here. Cost of living is relatively low, there is solid medical care and you are certain to find a great group of expats to connect with and help you settle in.

Check out some of our favorite places to stay in Tulum.

12. Cancun: A Top Spot for Expats

Cancun

Cancun is the best place for people looking to relocate to Mexico with ease. English is commonly spoken, the infrastructure is solid and there is a thriving and large expat community. This city offers more than just its stunning beaches and a lively Spring Break atmosphere; it’s the perfect location for expats looking for adventure, nightlife, shopping and good hospitals.

In addition to English, you are likely to hear French, Italian, and German and are certain to find a large international community with expats from around the world. There are several expat groups that gather weekly and provide support for settling in.

Cancun’s population is approaching 1 million and it is easy to find a spectrum of housing costs ranging from $700 a month to $3000. There are also several international schools making it an ideal location for expats with kids.

Cancun is certainly more developed and with that comes traffic and congestion so be sure to take that into account. But what expats like most about relocating here is that it feels easy and makes moving abroad a little less stressful.

13. Mazatlan: A Mexican Seaside

Mazatlan

Retirees and artists are drawn to Mazatlan for its charming atmosphere, abundance of recreational possibilities, and English-speaking inhabitants. Known as the Mexican Riviera, this seaside city is home to ancient landmarks, picturesque cliffs, and luxurious hotels.

 It has something for everyone: lively nightlife in Zona Dorada, beautiful waterfront restaurants, and a cheaper cost of living than many Mexican towns.

An appealing aspect of Mazatlan is its affordable accommodation, with one-bedroom flats priced between $400 and $1,000 per month. 

With its 20 miles of coastline, top-notch healthcare facilities, and secure environment, Mazatlan is the perfect place for retirees to enjoy low cost of living and year round sun.

14. Guanajuato: A Haven for History Lovers on a Budget

Guanajuato

Guanajuato, a hidden jewel in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, is a popular destination for expats because of its affordable housing, diverse culture, and fascinating history.

 With a much lower cost of living compared to many other Mexican towns, Guanajuato is a popular choice among expats looking to make Mexico their permanent home. For example, one-bedroom apartments may be found for as little as $400 monthly.

 Living in this city is a breeze any time of year because of its moderate winters and beautiful summers. Because of the vibrant cultural scene there is always something new to see and do. It does not however have a large expat community due to its size and location so keep that in mind if it is important to you.

Guanajuato is a great option for expatriates seeking a tranquil lifestyle in the Mexican heartland because of its high level of safety and low cost of living.

15. Puebla—A Delightful and Cultural Sanctuary

The beautiful architecture and rich cultural past of Puebla, which is located at a higher elevation, draw a number of expatriates. The city’s Puebla metropolitan population reached 3,345,000 people in 2023, up 1.52% from the previous year making it a large city.

Expats love living in Puebla because of the well-developed public transit system and the city’s infrastructure that accommodates pedestrians and cyclists. Expats relocating for a job or family will find the city’s cultural and culinary environment and low crime rate to be welcoming and safe.

San Andres Cholla located just adjacent is a beautiful colonial town that offers a quieter lifestyle than Puebla. It has a large expat community and is known for its excellent food and cultural offerings. A family of four can comfortably live for $3500 a month.

Know Your Expat Communities

Now that we have looked at the 15 best cities in Mexico for expats you can choose a location that feels like the right fit given your goals and lifestyle. We alway suggest visiting a place before you decide to move.

Mexico has recently been listed in several publications as the best location for expats and for good reason. There is something for everyone in this remarkable country and at a much lower price point. You can join the large number of expats who have decided to leave the United States for a meaningful expat life in Mexico.

A few important things to note about becoming an Expat in Mexico,,,

  • People from all around the world, including Mexico, make up the culturally varied expat community.

  • Mexican customs, gastronomy, and festivals all contribute to the country’s lively culture, which is a major lure for expats.

  • Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, Playa del Carmen, etc., are just a few of the many Mexican towns that are home to thriving expat populations.

  • Every place has its own distinct way of life that suits people’s tastes and interests so be sure to fund the one that is the best fit for you

  • Facilities like medical care, expat amenities, and a laid-back pace of life are common in retirement communities.

  • To assist each other through the difficulties of living abroad, many expats in Mexico join support groups which can be extremely helpful

Be sure to check out these deals on amazing lodging and flights throughout Mexico as you seek to determine your new dream destination!

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Choosing Your Perfect Country to Move Abroad

Whether you want to move abroad for a career, to study, for love, retirement, or to raise your family, this engaging, easy to follow roadmap will help you find the perfect location to start your new life.

 

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